The Process of Determining If You Need Rehab
Rehab is a crucial step in recovering from an addiction. Yet, far too many people don’t receive necessary addiction treatment because they haven’t fully realized the signs of their addiction. In 2014, 21.5 million Americans qualified as having a substance use disorder, but only 1% received treatment at a specialty facility designed to treat addiction. Like many chronic diseases, catching the early signs and taking action can prevent long-term damage. Therefore, determining if you need rehab should include an honest self-assessment followed by medical consultation.
Dependence vs. Addiction
Not everyone who uses substances is addicted to them. Certain individuals may develop a physical dependence to a substance but won’t exhibit addiction-related behaviors. The difference between dependence and addiction is more than the frequency of substance use or the body’s response to it.
|The physical adaptation of the body to a substance characterized by withdrawal symptoms upon reducing or quitting use.|
|A primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors including behavior such as an inability to control drug use, continued use despite harm, and uncontrollable cravings.|
|Adaptation to the effects of a substance that results in its reduced effectiveness over time.|
Source: American Society of Addiction Medicine
Prescription opioids aren’t the only medications that can lead to physical dependence over time. The body can develop a dependence on beta blockers, corticosteroids, and antidepressants in order to function normally without the individual developing an addiction. Too, non-narcotics like caffeine, nicotine, and sugar can cause dependence. On the other hand, some people develop addictions without having a physical dependence to the substance of abuse.
Moreover, the pathways in the brain responsible for addiction to drugs like Heroin is different than those responsible for physical dependence. When a substance is used, the brain’s “reward” pathway maintains pleasure signals. Conversely, the thalamus and brainstem carry signals that cause the root dependence.
Nonetheless, dependence to a substance may require treatment to prevent progression to an addiction. For prescription medications, your doctor can work with you to gradually reduce doses and prevent the onset of withdrawal symptoms. Outpatient rehabs and detox centers may also provide medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
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Signs Your Addiction Requires Treatment
Determining if you need rehab depends on the severity and number of symptoms of addiction you exhibit. One of the initial signs you may have an addiction–and not only a physical dependence–are destructive behaviors driven by uncontrollable cravings. These cravings are caused by changes in the brain and require continued treatment. Accordingly, addiction is classified as a chronic disease.
For those who think they may suffer from a substance use disorder (SUD), there are certain physical, mental, and social signs to look for. Some aspects of addiction have overlapping consequences. For instance, cravings may drive an individual to spend grocery money on purchasing drugs or alcohol–a mental sign of addiction. Subsequently, they may suffer poor health–a physical sign of addiction.
Symptoms of addiction vary from person to person and depend on the substance of abuse. Still, a fundamental element of addiction is a repetitive pattern of substance use that involves “clinically significant impairment or distress.”
Physical Signs You Might Have an Addiction
Because dependence can lead to addiction, physical signs of addiction may be the first to appear. To determine if you need rehab, look for the following signs:
- Increased tolerance. Needing to take more of a substance to get the same effects is one of the first signs of a possible addiction.
- Symptoms of withdrawal. These differ depending on the severity and type of addiction, but common symptoms include cravings, constipation or diarrhea, trembling, seizures, sweating, irritability, mood-swings, restlessness, feelings of discomfort, and abnormal behavior (such as violence).
- Changes in appetite. Marijuana use may increase appetite while Cocaine use may do the opposite. Additionally, Opioid use may cause nausea and alter an individual’s appetite.
- Alcohol- or drug-related injury. These may be directly caused by substance abuse (such as alcohol-related brain damage) or indirectly (such as HIV transmission from injection drug use).
- Insomnia. Insomnia is one of the most common signs of withdrawal and addiction.
- Changes to appearance. Over time, an individual may begin to neglect their health and appearance. They may not wash their clothes or use proper hygiene. They may also gain or lose weight.
Mental Signs You Might Have an Addiction
Mental or psychological signs of addiction that may let you know you need rehab include:
- Being unable to stop substance use. You may have made at least one failed attempt in the past but painful withdrawal symptoms were too much to endure. This could also be a physical sign too–Opioids cause a physiological inability to quit without harsh withdrawal symptoms.
- Continued use despite health consequences. Individuals with an alcohol use disorder may continue to drink despite developing alcoholic hepatitis.
- Using substances to handle problems or emotions. For instance, the notion of “drinking away problems” or using Cocaine to elevate mood is a sign of addiction.
- Taking larger doses to circumvent tolerance. You may have an addiction if you continually and purposely consume more and more of a substance to get the same effects or to feel normal.
- Stressing over your next dose. Obsessing over a substance and spending increasing amounts of time securing a supply, or thinking of ways to increase its potency are signs of addiction.
- Engaging in risky behavior to facilitate substance use. Some addiction sufferers sell drugs, commit robberies, or trade sex to fund their addiction. Driving drunk is also an example.
Social Signs You Might Have an Addiction
The social signs of an addiction can affect an individual’s personal and professional lives. These include:
- Abandoning hobbies. Some people abandon hobbies to avoid people who may question their substance use or because they’ve gotten too out of shape to do it. They may also no longer enjoy what they used to.
- Relationship issues. Due to changes in the brain, an individual with an addiction is likely to experience likewise changes in mood and behavior. These unexpected alterations are often the cause of friction in personal and professional relationships.
- Legal consequences. DUIs, DWIs, and OWIs are examples of legal consequences while driving but this also includes arrests for drug- and alcohol-related crimes such as assault, robbery, possession, intent to distribute, and paraphernalia.
- Denying having a problem. This includes either outright denying having a problem or believing you can quit whenever you choose.
- Changing your group of friends. Many people begin hanging out with other substance users to avoid potential feelings of guilt from disapproving friends.
- Being secretive or lying. Out of shame, people may hide substance use or lie about it.
- Maintaining a hidden stash. In addition to lying about substance use, keeping a stash (in the car, around the home, et cetera) to facilitate use is a sign of possible addiction.
- Avoiding responsibilities. Some neglect work, family, and other responsibilities to avoid feeling guilt or having to face accusations or due to being under the influence, lacking sleep, or withdrawal symptoms.
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Determining if you need rehab is important for anyone who wonders whether or not they might have an addiction. Addiction is a chronic disease and, if left untreated, can destroy lives. Remember that addiction is not your fault, but getting help is your responsibility.
For more information about your rehab options, talk to a recovery specialist today.
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